Homemade pizza

Perhaps this is a terrible and shameful thing for a food blogger to admit, but pizza is probably one of my very favourite foods. All of the base components which make up pizza – dough, cheese and tomato- are simple but delicious in their own right and Pizza is the one meal I never tire of. This claim has been put to the test on many a foreign holiday where the only vegetarian option night after night has been said pizza – so trust me I mean what I say!

If you are not feeling enthusiastic already, just have a think on all the amazing qualities this food has: You can top pizza with pretty much anything you fancy, making the possibilities for deliciousness endless. Over 5 billion pizzas are apparently eaten every year (that many people can’t be wrong) and Pizzas can even be served with chocolate as a dessert, as I discovered when I went to Rome last year. What’s not to love?!

So, as you may have gathered, I am somewhat of a fan. However, I had never (until this very blog) actually attempted to make my own at home. I had been put off hearing horror stories of having to knead dough for hours and thinking that my efforts to recreate the thin and crispy Neapolitan style base I love would be futile without a wood-fired oven. But one rainy afternoon I threw caution to the wind, followed Jamie Oliver’s dough recipe, and gave it a go. The results, especially considering I don’t own a pizza stone, were not too shabby.

Although I would say my creation was still not quite on a par with proper wood-fired pizza, this homemade version was really tasty and certainly superior to the shop-bought variety. I also made enough dough to have pizza for several days to come- a definite bonus. I topped mine with mushrooms, red onion, black olives, capers, pine nuts and mozzarella. This used my favourite pizza from pizza express “The veneziana” as inspiration, minus the sultanas as I didn’t have any to hand.

homemade pizza

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 800g strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 x 7 g dried yeast sachets
  • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 650 ml lukewarm water

For the sauce:

  • 2 X tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the toppings:

  • Black olives
  • Capers
  • Pine nuts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pack of mushrooms
  • 2 packets good quality mozzarella cheese

Method:

For the dough:

  • Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle
  • mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil with the water and leave for a few minutes, until bubbles start forming from the yeast, and then pour into the well
  • Bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, until it starts to come together and then knead the dough with your hands until smooth and springy
  • Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and dust it with flour. Then cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size
  • Once rested put the dough back onto a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands
  • You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required

pizza dough

For the sauce:

  • Heat the chopped tomatoes in a pan and add the garlic, herbs, tomato paste, sugar and garlic, season and simmer until reduced slightly
  • Leave to cool slightly and blend the mixture
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (gas mark 8)

Making the pizza

  • Roll out the dough on a floured work surface about ¼ inch thick (this does seem thin but this avoids the pizza being too ‘bready’) and place onto a baking tray which has been coated in olive oil
  • Add the sauce and the toppings and cook for around 10 minutes or until the crust is brown and crispyhome made pizza
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